Public defender speaks about Alex Whipple disclosing where Lizzy Shelley’s body was located

Public defender Shannon Demler speaking with reporters.

LOGAN — Public defender Shannon Demler is one of the few people who has been able to speak with Alex Whipple. He is also being praised and cursed for convincing the 21-year-old Providence man, accused of killing Lizzy Shelley, to tell him where the 5-year-old’s body was located.

Although many people were relieved when Demler led police to Shelley’s body, buried under debris in a backyard a half-block from her home, some were angry in the negotiations that led to the Wednesday discovery.

Demler explained that he met with Whipple several times after being assigned to represent him. He said that as the search wore on, and prosecutors filed their murder charges, he tried to convince Whipple to tell him where the body had been disposed of.

“I talked to [Whipple] about what he thought would be the appropriate action to take, due to the fact that it was his family and a lot of people in the community were out searching and putting in a lot of hours to try and find the victim in this matter,” said Demler. “At that point we turned our conversation towards what should we do that is the right thing.”

Whipple agreed to tell Demler where Lizzy’s body was if prosecutors promised not to seek the death penalty in his case.

Demler said when he spoke to prosecutors and police, they were willing to negotiate the agreed term. He explained that his main focus was trying to bring closure for the family and searchers that had been unable to locate the girl’s body for five-days.

“The last thing you want to do is go and find a dead body,” said Demler, emotionally. “I mean that’s not the preference for anybody, to have to on a Wednesday afternoon. We felt it was the best thing to do though, the best thing for everybody involved.”

This isn’t the first time Demler has been in a tough position. As a public defender, he has been assigned to represent some of the worst criminals who can’t afford to hire an attorney. Earlier this year he defended Stacy Willis, who confessed to killing a California woman, Merrilee Cox-Lafferty. In 2017, he represented Jayzon Decker, who admitted to attempting to kill Deserae Turner. He said that even though many of these individuals have committed some of the most heinous crimes imaginable, they still have constitutional rights that he has to defend.

Demler hasn’t specifically spoken to Whipple about what happened last Saturday morning. He explained, though, that during the past several days his client has become very regretful, as he realizes what he has done.

He is very emotional and very remorseful. I think he is confused, very disoriented as to what happened, and what is going on.”

Whipple remains in jail after a judge Tuesday ordered that he be held without bail. He is scheduled to appear again in court Monday. In addition to aggravated murder, he is suspected of child kidnapping, a second-degree felony, two counts of obstructing justice and abuse or desecration of a body, a third-degree felony. He could face up to life in prison if convicted.

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  • Cache Resident May 31, 2019 at 10:29 am Reply

    The police shouldn’t have missed the location of the body. Inexcusable. I’m return of those grave mistakes, Whipple received plea deals and will likely plead insanity.

    • Terry May 31, 2019 at 10:49 am Reply

      Why is it inexcusable? They are human and did the best that they could. Yes, his plea deal was that he doesn’t get the death penalty even though he committed a capital offense. All of you armchair quarterbacks are super irritating. Let the authorities do their job.

      • Joe Jensin May 31, 2019 at 1:15 pm Reply

        Sounds like you don’t hold the police to very high standards.

    • Brenda June 2, 2019 at 3:21 am Reply

      I love how you think it should have been so easy to find her. They had a 13 hour window. Over the whole south end of the valley. But yes, you seem to know everything and knew exactly where to look right???

  • Larsen May 31, 2019 at 11:31 am Reply

    Personally the death penalty lets him off to easy… he needs General Population ASAP

    • Anonymous May 31, 2019 at 1:13 pm Reply

      I agree with you. Lets just put him in general population and see how those people feel about alex being remorseful. They might give him the same respect he gave this little girl and see if he might see what a lash out might do for him

  • Malmo Yeti May 31, 2019 at 12:27 pm Reply

    Insanity isnt a plea that Utah accepts…
    Furthermore, I think life is better than death in my opinion. He will get to think anout little Lizzy EVERY SINGLE DAY of his life that he wakes up in his concrete room. He will have to live the flash backs of the things he has done on replay over and over. He will be mocked daily of her beautiful smile that HE alone took from this world. Death is easy. Living with with what you’ve done is a haunting reality he now gets to face. Not to mention the other cruel, vial, and disgusting things he will face once others figure out who he is and what he did to be their permanent room mate. (Every bit of which he fully deserves.) I wish him nothing but the awful, unspeakable karma he has headed his way. May he find no peace and no mercy.

    • Kat June 2, 2019 at 6:20 pm Reply

      Provided he has conscience… which I doubt.

  • Julie May 31, 2019 at 7:51 pm Reply

    I myself am glad they took the death penalty off the table. Law enforcement and the DA did all they could to bring closer for everyone involved. The death penalty is an easy way out for Alex ! He is only 21 . He deserves to live in prison the rest of his life ! And hopefully there won’t be a day that goes by that he isn’t miserable !

  • Carla June 1, 2019 at 4:17 am Reply

    Even if he got the death penalty he could sit in prison for years.some there now have been 30+ years.

  • Vaughn A Griffiths June 1, 2019 at 5:39 pm Reply

    I can’t begin to understand or imagine the darkness
    necessary for a human soul to experience, to do this kind
    thing. I profess to believe in a life after death and a loving
    God, in spite of the fact that most of the reasons, life is
    as it is, I clearly don’t understand. Still, I trust that God does.
    I do understand and I support the fact that a society needs to
    do its best to address these “dark” actions, which sometimes is
    execution. My heart hurts for the horror faced by public servants
    as they fulfill their duty, and all the other victims of this darkest of acts.
    I put no limits on the abilities of the God I believe in, to be just,
    in spite of our attempts at justice, or God’s ability to heal fractured
    souls. I do however, genuinely wonder, how similar is this darkness
    we allow into our own souls, as we wish, a particular fate on the guilty.

    • VP June 2, 2019 at 2:52 pm Reply

      Vaughn, your comment is putting to words exactly what has been running through my mind so thank you for it. Hate breeds hate and I do not want any part of that.

  • Ken June 2, 2019 at 3:16 pm Reply

    Enough said. Monsters like him need to be taken out of this world as soon as possible. His eternity in Hell is waiting for him. Lawyers are trash anyway. They should’ve found the body without him anyway. Who makes deals with murderers? What a joke. At least she is in heaven. Family looked sketchy anyway.

  • Sonja June 5, 2019 at 8:46 pm Reply

    Everything easier to see in hindsight. What I don’t understand is… How did the dogs not pick up on her scent? I thought I saw the police had dogs helping them as they searched for her.

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